Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Disses Working Moms -- Yet Again

Rant 47

home officeI actually felt a little bad after I criticized Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer for only taking two weeks of maternity leave. I thought maybe I should have been more supportive of her choice, even if it did send a pretty messed up message. Only now, she's gone and taken away a big choice for her employees, and I don't feel bad at all criticizing her for this one. Because to be blunt -- it sucks. Big time.

Last week, she announced that employees will no longer be permitted to work remotely. All Things D got a hold of the internal memo, which read in part: "Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

And with that -- one more big, huge slap in the face of working parents.

Working from home is one of the only ways some working parents can make it work. When work/life balance is already elusive enough, why would she attempt to try and take this away? It sets such a horrible precedent, and it's not only harmful to parents, but to her company who will surely lose valuable talent by not showing flexibility.

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I worked for a huge software corporation before my son was born. When he came into this world prematurely, my rapid ascent up that ladder came to an abrupt halt as I spent months in the hospital with him and ended up quitting my job because of the care he needed at home. Fortunately, for me, my manager at that time didn't want to lose me and offered me a job working from home. It was a great arrangement for me, and really for the company, who already had a well-trained employee with a great track record. Why let someone like that go just because she can't be in the office?

When we moved across the country, the job had shifted a bit where I needed to be in the office once in awhile, and I couldn't do it from Florida, but I managed to find other jobs that have let me work remotely for the past nine years. If I hadn't, I don't know what I'd be doing or if I'd be working. It certainly would be harder.

I've been fortunate, but I've always been baffled as to why more companies don't allow or even encourage telecommuting. With technology today, there's often no reason not to, and in return you get happier employees who are often as productive, if not more productive, than those who work from the office.

Working from home is no breeze. It takes discipline, focus, and childcare. But it also offers the flexibility that many moms need to make it work. I literally don't have time to take a shower some days until late at night, but that's okay because no one is going to see me sitting here in my home office. Every minute counts in the life of a working mom, and those minutes I would spend primping and prepping to go into an office are instead spent on work. If I had to tack on a commute each way to my job and do all the standard chit chat that goes on when you're around coworkers, I would work fewer hours, plain and simple. When I work at home, I'm heads down focused on my job.

I know a lot of women who work remotely, and we work as hard if not harder than those who report into an office. Without face time with a manager, it's our work that must speak for us. There are downsides as well, but for me, it's the best situation I can imagine in which I can do meaningful work and still manage to keep my family running somewhat smoothly.

As with everything, it comes down to the individual. I'm sure there are those who take advantage of telecommuting, and there are definitely jobs that require an office presence. But there are also a large number of highly qualified, talented people who can do a job from home just as well if not better than they can in an office. So to put a big blanket policy in effect that takes away that option for everyone is ridiculous and disappointing, especially from a woman who should know better. Shame on her.

What do you think of Marissa Mayer's policy against employees working from home?


Image via Julie Ryan Evans

a mom's life, working moms


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mande... manderspanders

I don't see how its a huge slap in the face to working parents.

I'm a telecommuter for a fortune 500 company... my contract explicitly states that I must have care for my dependents.  So, I'm sure many telecommuters have similar contracts.  Sure, you get away with what you can, but the reality is that you should already being dealing with childcare anyway.

I actually prefer working in an office... but due to demographics, it isn't possible for my position.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

A lot of companies are going that way now. They tried the telecommuting thing and realized it didn't work well, especially in a creative industry like software. Innovation happens when people work together and brainstorm and that means being together. The best ideas happen during those informal brainstorming sessions that just don't happen when everyone is working at home. She is doing what needs to be done because Yahoo desperately needs some fresh ideas if they want to be relevant again.

BabyL... BabyLadyG12

If I couldn't work from home on occasion, I would probably not be working my current job--or at least I'd be much more miserable doing so.  My job is very demanding and unpredictable.  The ability to work from home when something comes up at 9PM or 7AM or over the weekend not only makes my job more bearable, but also makes it much easier to get things done for a client quickly.  If every time something arose unexpectedly I had to hightail it into the office, it would take me MUCH longer to get my work done.

Another perk of being able to work remotely, is that if something comes up that keeps me home for part of the day, I can start working immediately once I take care of whatever I need to.  Working from home on such days, I am apt to work longer and harder because I am so thankful to have this degree of flexibility and because I do not feel resentful that I had to spend 1.5hrs commuting to and from the office when I already had a taxing day.

As a mom, working from home permits me to put my son to bed at 8:30 most nights because I can leave the office in time to tuck him in and then continue working after he's gone to sleep.  Working from home increases my productivity, my happiness and my dedication to my workplace.

While I don't wish ill on others, I hope implementing this policy does not improve speed and quality as hoped, and instead reflects that there are MANY benefits to being able to work remotely.

Mike Wilton

I think you miss the big picture with this move though. Mayer is working with a company that is trying to rebuild itself. A company that has been on a downward spiral for years, she has to do this to rally her troops. Furthermore, if you read follow up information on this change it was due to the fact that the company had numerous employees working from home that many didn't even know were still on the company payroll because they had been gone for so long.

This isn't a slap in the face to parents that work from home, this is a means of rallying her troops to make Yahoo the best that it can be. My guess is that this is only a temporary solution while the company refocuses and restructures. To say she might lose talent because of it, tells me that these employees weren't that vested in the company to begin with and based on the current efforts of the company they are probably bette off without those folks.

I am sure Mayer struggled with this decision, especially as a mother, but ultimately she has the well being of her company to worry about. She has employees and investors looking to her to take Yahoo in the right direction and right now she needs all the help she can get. It might seem like a step back to those of us who see the value in telecommuting, but I feel that she did so to make sure all hands were on deck while they move forward with the future of Yahoo.

Flori... Floridamom96

Um, I'm sure this come as a surprise to you, Julie, but business are in business to make money, not to babysit panty-waisted, selfish adults who think life is all about helping them erase the consequences for their choices. If your family really comes first to you then stay home with your kids. Don't make your problems someone elses problems. Being a parent is your choice (remember that word?), working is your choice. It's up to you to figure out how to make it work.

early... earlybird11

This is a case where a select few ruin it for others. If people don't do what's right and do their job first and foremost, they give it a bad rep . that's the sad truth.

nonmember avatar MammaMel

how exactly is this a big slap in the face for parents??? Teleworking is WORKING not daycare...even if I am teleworking then I still have to have care for my child...if I don't I take leave, period! And frankly, teleworking with a child present is freaking hard/stupid/unproductive.

corri... corrinacs

Wow, a lot of commentors here DID NOT get the message :/.  How could they have kids, really :/.

I understand precisely where you are coming from!  Telecommuting has been fantastic for my family, and in fact I (the one that does NOT telecommute) is the one that's paying the price!

Children get sick, that's a fact.  This year, mine got sick OFTEN!  Its hard to tell your boss that "you have to take off again because someone's throwing up all over the place".  Its jus so much easier to work from home.  While the kiddo is asleep (they sleep a lot when they are sick usually) you can get some work done.

Also, with telecommuting, they don't hound on you all day long!  They give you a project, ask you about it once in a while, but they give you a due date (usually in a day or two......or a week or two).  So, you end up doing the work when you can (during the day....if kids sick, do it at night when SO comes home).

I think this is BAD for the work/life balance :/.  The way she went about it was cold.

nonmember avatar MammaMel can you have kids, really, being so judgemental? I love my son, but I understand business, THAT is the difference. If letting employees telework isn't getting the same productivity then HELL YES you bring them back. Sorry, I would rather be in the office working than laid off because my job no longer exists. And, I'm sure your boss doesn't know that you are being a caretaker AND worker at the same time...THAT equals lost productivity, and is NOT ALLOWED by most telework agreements. She didn't say she was taking leave away. All businesses realize the importance of team building together which is what she is trying to do, they also realize the importance of home/work balance - which is what LEAVE is for. I tried to telework when my kid was sick, it's pointless, I took leave. make a good point...we don't consider "outside of working hours" teleworker...I'm sure she will have to allow for that, THAT does keep productivity up.

tinyp... tinypossum

I've been teleworking for the past 7 years and it's been the best thing that could have possibly happened to me. It enables me to do my job, and do it well, but still have a good family life. I couldn't do that if I spent 3 hours a day in my car commuting. My employer realizes that treating employees well and understanding that everyone has a life outside the office is what generates loyalty and dedication. The teleworking benefits are what have kept me with the organization through lean times, no raises, and increasing benefit costs. I have always had childcare arrangements in place so that I can get my work done without distractions. I use technology to connect with my co-workers and we have plenty of ways that we can bat around ideas that don't require sitting in the same physical space. If my employer can do it, I'm pretty sure that Yahoo could figure it out, too. This move may prove to be disasterous for Yahoo when the employees go looking for more progressive places to work. 

Floridamom96-I hope you aren't an employer. 

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